COVID-19 Blog

FGLI COVID-19 Stories

COVID-19 has greatly impacted many people around the world, especially first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students. With this special edition COVID-19 blog initiative, Rise First hopes to achieve three key objectives:

  1. raise awareness of the challenges FGLI students are experiencing during this unprecedented crisis,
  2. provide a platform for FGLI students to share their stories,
  3. offer support to the best of our ability (through financial assistance and a curated COVID-19 resources list)

Rise First is honored to be able to provide a platform for student authors to opt-in to sharing their heartfelt and inspiring experiences with others so that no one will feel alone during these trying times. The inspiring stories published here are unedited to fully reflect each author’s voice. They are weaved together by common threads of determination, hope, and a sense of community - we truly are all in this together.

The students named in the blog entries below have opted-in to display their bios and have provided headshots for publishing.

Posts from students at Claremont McKenna College


COVID-19 Author Image

Wendy Rodriguez - Claremont McKenna College

If I rewind back to February/March of last year, I had recently finished presenting a play production of Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge and along with my family had moved into our new residence after being unfairly evicted from the home I had known my entire life. This period cannot be described as having a pleasant stroll in the park as I was overwhelmed by the home-hunting in crazy expensive Los Angeles, my responsibilities as the eldest of three and student director/stage manager of a play, as well as my ongoing commitment to my volunteer shifts at the hospital. It was a hard bump on the road that is for sure. I could not really bask in the accomplishments that had taken twelve years to savor because I felt guilty; my family and I were living in a kitchen-less, two-roomed space in the back of a house someone had kindly offered to rent for us. I had earned a full ride scholarship through Questbridge to Claremont McKenna College, a renowned liberal arts institution, had officially represented my class as the Salutatorian, and had recently been on the television as a Cool Kid on ABC7 News. You would think I would be jumping of happiness because my life plans were starting to come into fruition, but I could not bring myself to fully enjoy them. Being an optimist though, I began adapting to my new reality, taking into account that I had more reasons to be happy than not. I as well as my family continued on with our lives, forming a home as the unit we always were and will continue to be through the good and bad. On graduation day, I did walk the stage despite people’s low expectations for a female Chicana at a public school. That day my parents and grandparents had also earned a diploma. They were not able to even finish an elementary education because of the lack of resources in a small pueblo of Mexico. Once they were pursuing the American dream, they made sure to instill the value of education in the family’s youth. I was the first of my extended family to decide to go on to higher learning and I could not be more proud because I would hopefully plant the seed that would be nurtured by the following generations.

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